Alice Ruggles Trust — Some of our activities in 2017 and 2018

Home Office, Police and CPS

Paladin day conference. “Raising the Bar: Best Practice in Stalking Cases” (London, June 2017) was a conference aimed at Police Officers dealing with stalking offences. Clive, Sue, and Nick attended on behalf of the Trust. Clive presented Alice's story and spoke about what we would like to see change.

CPS Senior Managers’ conference (York, November 2017). Clive was invited to speak about what happened to Alice. The Director of Public Prosecutions has since assured the Trust that Alice’s story has had a significant impact, with many CPS managers planning actions to ensure that both police colleagues and CPS staff in their areas are aware of the issues around stalking and will work to develop strong cases which allow the court to take the right action. We understand that the CPS and the National Police Chiefs’ Council have recently developed an amended Protocol on the appropriate handling of stalking or harassment offences which reflects lessons learned form Alice’s case and others. and the Trust has been invited to speak at a masterclass focusing on police recognition and recording of stalking, in response to the CPS initiative.

Home Office Force Crime Registrars’ conference (College of Policing, March 2018). Each police force is required to have a Crime Registrar (FCR) who, together with their teams, are responsible for driving improvements in the recording of crime. The Home Office National Crime Registrar had identified stalking and harassment as an important area where improvement was needed, and invited the Alice Ruggles Trust to speak at a session on the subject along with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and representatives of the National Police Chief’s Council portfolio for Stalking and Harassment. The Trust understands that a significant change is now being made to FCR guidelines whereby if an offence such as criminal damage or assault involves some element of stalking or harassment then police are now expected to record both. In the past it was likely that only the direct offence would have been reported.

Northumbria Police. Nick and Clive met Dame Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), to discuss lessons to be learned from the police handling of Alice’s complaints about Trimaan Dhillon. They also discussed changes to policy on stalking and cyberstalking initiatives. Nick later met a representative of Northumbria Police’s Cyberstalking Unit. Clive and Sue met with officers from the Professional Standards Unit to discuss the Northumbria Police’s new policies and were filmed for a training video for front-line officers.

In February 2018 Clive visited Cheshire constabulary's new anti-stalking unit on behalf of the Trust to explore opportunities for future collaborative work.

In late 2017 Clive and Sue met with Dr Jane Monckton Smith, a former Police Forensic Criminologist specialising in homicide, coercive control and stalking now working for University of Gloucestershire. She reinforced our belief that the distinction between stalking and harassment is misunderstood by many. She said that she would define all instances of harassment within a relationship as stalking. Interestingly she argued that around 50% of stalkers will stop when issued with a PIN, and if they do not stop then this is a good indicator that they are seriously obsessed and hence a serious danger. She also introduced us to the DART (Domestic Abuse Reference Tool) app, which has been used by Gloucestershire Constabulary.

Sue and Clive also met Gary Shewan (retiring ACPO lead on stalking and harassment and restorative justice) in December 2017.

Military

During June 2017, Mike gave a number of presentations to several British Army units based in Germany on the signs and dangers of stalking and coercive control. His presentations included one to an audience of Heads of agencies, and to welfare, medical, military police, education and social services professionals who are already (or may inadvertently be) involved in dealing with Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour-Based Violence (DASH) assessments.

The presentations were done in conjunction with Lisa Horder, the lead on safeguarding, domestic abuse and the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) in British Forces Germany (BFG), to raise awareness and low-level training on recognising the signs of stalking, harassment, controlling and coercive behaviour.

Mike returned to Germany in March 2018 to present two further talks to the Royal Military Police on stalking as part of their DASH training. These RMP soldiers and officers deal with DASH cases daily in BFG.

Raising awareness and public engagement

The ITV documentary “An Hour to Catch a Killer” was screened in October 2017, generating a good deal of media interest in Alice’s story and the lessons to be learned.

The Trust has begun to raise awareness by talking to school-age pupils about coercive behaviour and stalking. Sue has so far given four talks to different groups of 16–18-year-olds.

Sue and Clive represented the Trust at the AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse) conference in Swindon in March 2018, “Illuminate the Past to make the Future Safer”.

Maxine gave a talk at the White Ribbon event for Women’s Aid in Newcastle and Alice is to feature in their calendar.

A social media team of Lizzie Smith, Gen Crozier, Emma Casson and Megan Stewart has been formed and led the campaign for people to contact their MPs in support of the Stalking Protection Bill at its second reading in January 2018.

Publicity materials. The Trust has produced an “Are you being stalked?” leaflet, a charity Information leaflet and banners for displays at fundraising events.

Campaigns

Stalking Protection Bill. The Trust lent its full support to efforts to motivate MPs to support the Stalking Protection Bill at its the second reading in January 2018, and conducted its own social media campaign. On behalf of the Trust, Clive attended a meeting in Westminster chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP to discuss Stalking Protection Orders ahead of the second reading, and Sue and Clive attended a “round table” in Parliament organised by Sarah Wollaston and Victoria Atkins (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability). In the debate, both Neil O'Brien (MP for Harborough) and Victoria Atkins mentioned Alice and the Trust in their speeches. The Bill passed its second reading and has now proceeded to the Committee stage.

Serial Perpetrator register. The Trust lent its support to a campaign led by Paladin to introduce a register which would enable police to pro-actively identify, track, monitor and manage stalkers—particularly in various media interviews around the time of the screening of the ITV documentary. Such a register would, for example, allow police assessing the seriousness of a call from a victim to be alerted to previous incidents involving the perpetrator that would indicate a dangerous pattern of behaviour. A petition containing 130,000 signatures was delivered to the Prime Minister in October 2017.

Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. When this Bill was debated in the House of Lords, Baroness Jan Royall spoke about what happened to Alice and quoted Clive saying he believed Alice’s fear was dismissed by the police owing to her polite and respectful demeanour. She said there was no consistency in how the calls were handled and that to be asked “Well, what do you think we should do about it?’ is “appalling ... there is no excuse”.

Local MP. Sue contacted Neil O'Brien (MP for Harborough) who offered to write to all Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables to urge them to act on the recommendations of the HMIC/HMCPSI report on stalking. He also spoke about Alice in Parliament at the second reading of the Stalking Protection Bill.